The Russian Ministry of Culture has announced that it will double the amount of government funding for the film industry next year. The Ministry of Culture budget for 2002 will include $60m for film, 70% of which will support film production with the remaining 30% allocated for the funding of festivals and other film industry activities.

Alexander Golutva, former minister of the now defunct Ministry of Cinematography, and now responsible for the cinema department at the Ministry of Culture has been promoted to First Deputy Minister of Culture and is now also responsible for theatre, arts and other cultural activities.

Speaking to journalists at the annual celebration of the Russian cinema (August 27) Golutva said: "This is the first time in our history that we have seen such a substantial increase in the government budget for cinema." In a controversial move the Ministry of Cinematography was abolished a year ago and its responsibilities taken over by the Ministry of Culture.

The government supported about 35 feature films last year and plans to increase that number next year. The production support of some $42m allocated within the Ministry's budget is expected to replace the private investment lost by the termination, at the end of this year, of private film investment tax concessions.

Golutva also discussed the recent presidential decrees for the privatisation of state owned film studios saying that Gorky and Sverdlovsk would be the first studios to be privatised and confirmed that the plan to create a government supported agency for the distribution of Russian films would go ahead although no budget for these projects was mentioned.